Are closely related to scale insects because they are sap sucking insects. They will cause a lot of damage to the garden when they are in large numbers including severe wilting and distortion of new growth, leaf and bud drop. Like scale they also excrete large amounts of honey drew which leads to the growth of sooty mould.
Mealybugs get their name from the white powdery or “mealy” wax material that cover the female and nymphs’ (immature adults). They are oval and less than 5mm long. Although their colour makes them easy to see, they feed in secluded parts of the plant. Keeping an eye out for them is the best form of prevention, as the first thing you may find, which will need investigation, is the sooty mould.
The key to halting infestation is to ensure they do not come into your garden on plants and cuttings. Look out for them on fruits such as citrus, grapes, and on ornamental plants, including gardenias, hibiscus and many houseplants. Also look at pruning back foliage to prevent sheltered feeding spots and control weeds were they like to breed.
Encourage natural enemies in the garden such as lacewings and ladybird species. Mealy bugs can also be controlled with a pest oil such as EarthCare White Oil insect spray or EarthCare Enviro Pest Oil insect spray. When spraying the foliage follow the directions on the back of the pack and spray both sides of the foliage. Repeat applications maybe needed for further control. Remember not to spray when beneficial insects and bees are around.
A healthy garden can also help prevent pest infestation. If your plants are strong and healthy, they may be able to handle and reduce the stress of pests and diseases. Applying Seasol regularly every two weeks during the year can help them to cope with environmental stress. Keeping plants fed with fertilisers such as PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives, better watering and appropriate light exposure can also help build tougher plants.